Unfortunately the photos from this trip have gone missing in the transition of one computer to another. If I manage to find them in the ether then I’ll add them.
The day before my trip I went to start the car to take advantage of cheap petrol Wednesday’s and it wouldn’t start, so I rang up the garage who said they could fit it in. Picked it up at 16.00 cost $296 which put a hole in my budget for the trip, spent til 18.00 packing.
Up with Bev at 6.00, dropped her at the station and set off. The car behaved itself, the fridge did not, I couldn’t get it to work. I missed my spot near Port Germain, drove right by it, so kept going past Port Augusta and stopped near a grid just off the road.
My camping spot was a bit inauspicious; the best bird I could find was a Mistletoebird. first stop north was 36km N of Port Augusta, at 129km N of Port Augusta I stopped and got Bourke’s Parrot, Wirramunna had Bluebonnet and Mulga Parrot, on the next stop I got 120 Crimson Chats at Lake Hart W, which is actually several kilometres west of the lake, S of Glendambo had Orange Chat. 17km N of Glendambo had Emu. just north of Coober Pedy I drove down a little track to a small plateau and had a campfire, as the sun went down I cooked one of Bev’s pre-cooked dinners.
Only did one survey today at 79km N of Marla and got to Alice Springs at 16.00. Marla was the dearest petrol at 1.65.9c/L. I was supposed to pick up Patrick Hodgson, but he’d left a message on my phone saying he’d got a rental car, so I went to Kunoth Well for the night, another campfire, and added a few vegies to one of Bev’s pre-cooked dinners.
Drove slowly up the Tanami rd stopping frequently, first stop was 64km Tanami Rd, then 102km NW of Alice Springs which had Hooded Robin, and at Newhaven Rd 1. There were other stops that I didn’t stop long enough to do a survey at, one had Western Bowerbird. It got quite warm for the first time on the trip, got to Newhaven at 15.30 and met the other surveyors. Richard cooked a dinner of spaghetti for us all, and we spent the eve chatting, had a shower which was nice, the generator was cut off at 21.00 and I went to sleep in the room off the kitchen in the atco.
Up a bit after dawn, teamed up and we had a test of finding survey spots, doing 2 each, I did a third. 2 of the three spots had no birds. I got a Grey Honeyeater at Newhaven track 1, and a falcon swooped us, I thought it was a grey, but after checking the photo I took of it, it turned out to be a Hobby, which left me with egg on my face. Generator off at 21.00, bed.
key to site ID
ACS mixed acacia sandplain
BMS Blue Mallee sandplain
DOD Desert Oak dune
GCP Grassy Calcrete plain
OSF Open Saltbush flat
SCP Spinifex Calcrete plain
SSP Semi-saline Spinifex plain
QZH Quartzite hill
Up at dawn with the generator, quick breaky and got to BMS20 SCP83 GCP001 DOD51. The spots are too small for birding so we often got no birds during the 20min 1ha survey, we then look for birds in the same habitat in the immediate area, usually with better results. It’s been a long time since they’ve had rain here, so they’ve had a few bush fires and there’s very little flowering, so it’s generally pretty poor birding. It’s cold in the morning and windy by mid morning. We don’t start a survey after 13.00 so drove back for lunch and a rest for the arvo.
Out to DOD53 and 54 SCP85 BWS45 got some Ground Cuckoo-shrikes and another sighting of a Hobby Falcon, not much else.
Out the other way to MGW70 OSF30 BMS25 BWS40. Went by two bores, but they’re disconnected and dry so no birds around them, not much better at the sites, though did get some Slaty-backed Thornbills at BWS40. It got too windy so went back for lunch early. Went to Evening View in the arvo.
Did MGW71, ACS115 FSD100 BWS42, I found a nice looking gully at Gorge 1 Newhaven and decided to walk the kilometre in to it, Alistair waited at the entrance, I went in and got a Black Honeyeater, when I came back he said he’d seen a wren, I had a look around but couldn’t find anything. When we got back we convinced Richard to have a look, so we went back at 16.00. I got some Spinifex Pigeons. They found some Dusky Grasswrens, Patrick got them first, and it was a new bird for Jenny. We all went and sat at Freshwater Bore, but nothing much happened,
We all went west today Richard took Alistair in the AWS Landcruiser, so I had to use my car and did ACS114 MGW73 ACS112 BMS71. It was looking ordinary until a Black-breasted Buzzard flew overhead. I had a look at QZH91 where there are supposed to be Dusky Grasswrens but didn’t see any, went back to Freshwater Bore and got Rufous Songlark and some good looks at Little Button Quails feeding around us as we sat still, very cute.
By myself today did BMS22 MGW72 my first QZH had some flowering Holly Grevilea and got Grey-headed Honeyeater, at the base there were some regenerating Bloodwoods in sand and I got 9 species including Grey-crowned Babbler and Mistletoebird and my bird of the day a northern form Black-chinned Honeyeater. We went to Southern Cross Bore in the arvo, not as good as Freshwater Bore.
Did GCP002 SCP84 GPL63 and 62 SSP14 today, they were ordinary sites so I didn’t get much. One of Patrick’s friends arrived and we went to Freshwater Bore again not much happening, went back over the hill and got Spotted Nightjar.
Did GCP005 006 004 DOD55 today they were low in diversity but I saw Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and White-winged Triller, on a very pleasant warm windless morning.
Everyone was gone by mid morning. Despite Richard saying I couldn’t use the quad bike that I’d been eying off because I had no experience on one I asked Don the curator and he let me use it. My first run was short because I had to come back for some petrol, then I went out to the northern mesa area. It certainly made it an easier access in to the gorge, but in there I only got Grey Shrike-thrush and Mistletoebird.. The quad was more destructive over the scrub than I’d hoped so I didn’t do any more gorges, went to Freshwater Bore for the arvo and got Cockatiel, and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and back by 16.00, lazed and played solitaire til it was 19.30 at home, rang home but Bev was out, spent the eve chatting with Don.
Checked out the NW end of the Newhaven Airstrip after breaky, and had a major scare when I got a pain in my chest and felt faint. I thought I was having a heart attack so I lay down to die. There was nothing else to do out here, so with the sun on my face and seeds wafting by in the gentle breeze I made my peace with God. After about 5-10mins I realized it was just heart palpitations which I occasionally get, though not as severely as this, so I got up and finished the survey and drove back to camp, and spent the rest of the day lazing and dozing on my bed and drinking lots of water. The new surveyors started arriving in the late arvo, first Hank and Sue then Richard and Stewart. Took Stewart to Freshwater bore but there wasn’t much happening again.
The others were a bit slow off the mark so Richard and I sat waiting for ½hr for them. Richard did his lecture then we went to do ACS111 as I had done last time. It was immediately evident that Stewart is a better birder than me, so when we did our surveys at BWS43 QZH94 I sent him off to do the surrounds whilst I did the survey, and as usual got very little. We’d found a flowering acacia so took a bit for Sue to identify, she crushed it a bit and pronounced it to be Curry Acacia, since that is what it smells like. Had my usual siesta in the arvo, fixed the headlights in the Landcruiser so we could see where were going on the way home from the bore, and drove down at 16.00, nothing startling, had a look at Venus as a crescent and Jupiter through Hank’s scope.
Still dark when I got up and headed off as it got light to OSF34 SCP80 SSP80 OSF33 QZH93, got some Dusky Grasswrens at the base of QZH which was gratifying. Checked out the site at the airstrip for Emuwrens but we weren’t impressed with it. It was a cold and windy start to the day and it only got windier as the day wore on. Dozed and read again in the arvo. Stewart is a bit of a set up photographer setting up a little diorama for things he’s found during the day, today it was a Sandplain Gecko juvenile, which I also took a photo of. Went out to the gorge site didn’t see any grasswrens but I found a Thorny Devil, what a fantastic little reptile. On the way back got a photo of a Spotted Nightjar a House Gecko and Northern Spiny-tailed Gecko.
Out to ACS113 which was jumping with birds and filled a sheet, BMS24 was quiet, though we might have got a Striated Grasswren and then a long walk to BWS41 which wasn’t all that good, plenty of birds but low diversity got a Leopard Skink. On the walk back got a Grey Honeyeater in some Blue Mallee. For sunset we went up the home range, Stewart volunteered to carry the esky. Heard a Boobook Owl and a Barn Owl scolded us as we made our way down in the dark, Sue carried the esky down, a full moon lit the way for us.
Did GCP003 SCP82 GPL60 DOD55 by myself, took some photos around the lake after looking unsuccessfully for wrens in the dunes, poor birding today. I was first back, lazed and read in the heat of the afternoon. Richard cooked a stew for some of us, Hank and Sue lit a fire and had a late BBQ vegie and tofu. Don brought over some damper for dessert, Thomas the local from Nirrippi looked uncomfortable and said as little as possible.
Did FSD101, quite a walk, QZH93 OSF35 SSP15 it was quite warm by the end. The OSF site had no birds but the birds were still active around the SSP site including some Banded Whiteface, back for a lazy afternoon of snoozing and reading. Richard and Stewart went off to look for a Peregrine at the mesa with no luck. Hank and Sue went to the dry lake, I did more lazing, then strolled down to the campground, but there wasn’t anything interesting, fed a few flies to the antlions.
Did QZH95 SCP81 OSF34 DOD51 with Richard, I reckon I’m on a par with his competence, nothing startling, took a Desert Oak seedpod as a souvenir from the DOD site. Back to camp, packed filled the car up and hit the road. At Alice Springs sent an sms to Bev saying I was on my way back, and got some money out, there was only $250 in there, so took out $200 and hoped that it would be enough to get me back home. Drove to Kulgera and stopped behind a hill at 20.00
Up 4.00 and drove all day, Bev rang me just as I was leaving Coober Pedy. Got to Talem Bend at 21.00
Up 6.00 and drove home still had $210 left so I needn’t have taken any out at Alice Springs
Petrol $780 food $248